Crusading Against a Name?

Some of you may be aware of a Christian ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. I’ve had involvement with CCC for awhile, as it was the parent organization of Penn State Christian Grads, which I was a part of and helped lead for several years. They’re a good organization, and do a lot of good work to spread the gospel around the world.

I found out on Tuesday evening that Campus Crusade for Christ was planning a name change, when I saw some posts about it in my Facebook news feed from people who are at the CCC national conference that’s currently happening just up the road in Fort Collins. When I heard the new name was simply “Cru,” I thought, “Well, that was anticlimactic.” I say that largely because the organization has colloquially been known as Cru in many circles for a decade or two. I just didn’t think it was worth all the buildup and hype that CCC had given it. Other than that I didn’t think too much of it. My reaction to the name change wasn’t really positive or negative, just “meh.”

While the new name has generally been received well by Cru staff, some people have reacted quite negatively to it.

Enter Glenn Beck. Apparently Mr. Beck leveled some serious criticism against CCC about the name change this morning. He accused CCC of changing their name to Cru because they were ashamed of having “Christ” in their name. He accused Cru of being a bunch of cowards. Does that charge have any merit?

In a word, no. CCC has an FAQ page about their name change to Cru, where they address why they made the name change. They made the name change not because they think Christ is offensive, but because they’ve found that in the past decade or two, 20% of people they came in contact with were less willing to listen to what they had to say once they heard the word Crusade in their name (they found that Cru doesn’t generate a similar negative reaction, however). That was the primary motivation for the name change, a desire to remove unnecessary hindrances to the message of the gospel. They also changed the name because their ministry is not only focused on college campuses anymore. And yes, they ended up removing Christ from the name of the organization, but there are many ministries that don’t mention Christ in their title. Two other prominent and good student ministries, Navigators and InterVarsity, come to mind immediately, but the list really is quite long. Is a ministry exhibiting cowardice and unworthiness of support simply for not explicitly including Christ in their title? Hardly! One should look at the fruits of their ministry and their efforts, not just their name, before making judgements about the courage, worth, or value of an organization. Facts are better than assumptions.

I don’t know of anyone within Cru who is offended to be associated with Christ or to publicly proclaim Him. I mean, the whole point of their organization is to witness to people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. That hasn’t changed. Without any evidence to support it from within Cru, it’s reckless and irresponsible to ascribe the true motivation for the name change to admitting that Christ is offensive. Sure, there are many people who claim to be Christians who are ashamed of the name of Christ and are afraid to proclaim His name publicly for fear that it might offend someone, but where’s the evidence that that is the case within the Cru organization? To the best of my knowledge, it’s absent. (EDIT on 22 July at 8:30am MDT: Cru has issued another press release reaffirming their commitment to Christ.)

If people like Glenn Beck want to criticize the reasons for Campus Crusade for Christ changing their name to Cru, that’s fine. I realize some people aren’t a fan of the name change for one reason or another, including that Christ is no longer in the name. That’s okay, and it’s a perfectly valid reason not to like the name change. If they’re going to criticize Cru’s rationale for making the change, however, they should at least be criticizing the actual reasons behind the name change (especially when they’re published on the organization’s website!), not making up false reasons without any supporting evidence just to gin up controversy.

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